How to Prepare for an Emergency
The recent fire in Grenfell Tower in London was a sad and traumatising event for the residents. A few were able to leave and take some possessions with them, but others were left with nothing, but their night clothes on. My prayers are with the residents and their loved ones during this time.
This is not the first tower fire we have witnessed, there have been several in Dubai in the last few years, and we cannot say for sure that there won’t be more in the future (until the cladding is removed off these buildings). These types of fires don’t happen often, but they do happen. Whilst we never know when an emergency may occur, whether it be a fire, earthquake, tsunami or other emergency, it is prudent to prepare just in case. To enable you to get ready, here are my steps to create an emergency plan:
Keeping your Home Safe
- Make sure you have smoke and heat detectors in your home. Check that they are working periodically.
- Make sure all exits are clear of obstructions in your home and also in hallways. If there is clutter in the hallways and the smoke is obscuring the sight of the person trying to escape, they could end up injured or worse prevented from escaping.
- Keep a flashlight, matches and candles in an easy to locate place.
- Purchase home insurance and ensure it covers the contents within your home including your furniture.
- Insist your building management install water sprinklers inside and on your balcony. This one was installed in the ceiling in my balcony, by our building management after the recent fires in Dubai.
Prepare for the Emergency
- Emergency contacts – Add your emergency contacts in your contact book and also in an phone app such as “Health” (this app is provided free on iPhones by Apple). The Health App is accessible by emergency crew even if your phone is locked.
- Always make sure you have your mobile phone and portable charger charged up. Put your battery on “low battery setting” to ensure it lasts as long as possible during an emergency.
- Purchase a fire and waterproof safe and keep all important documents including passport, cash , valuables, property documents, etc. I have the documents in a carry hold to pick up and leave with if there is an emergency.
- Always keep cash to hand in your safe or purse. If there is a power cut, you will not be able to withdraw cash from an ATM machine.
- Identify any valuables and medicine that you want to take with you. My handbag is always by the door to pick up quickly if needed and contains my purse, a protein bar and charger.
- If you have pets, have a carry case ready to put them in it quickly. I have two cats, so I purchased a large travel case to put them in it if required. I should have two cases, but realistically there is no way I will be able to carry two cases and everything else.
- Have a sturdy pair of shoes ready to put on quickly if you have to flee your home.
- Purchase or create an emergency preparedness kit. This one from the American Red Cross, contains the essentials and is easy to carry. You can use the list mentioned on their site and create your own one.
Plan your Exit Strategy
- Identify the escape routes from each area of your home and also of your building. Practise the escape route with your family on a periodic basis.
- For homes and villas, purchase a ladder that can reach the second and third floors.
- Have a meeting place (which is not near the building), to meet everyone.
- If you are in an area known for having regular hurricanes, flooding and/or earthquakes – pack for 5 or more days including with sleeping bag, pillows, medical supplies and chargers for phones and other electronics.
- Attend all fire drills when they occur at home or at work.
In case of Fire
- When the alarm goes off, do leave, you never know when it might be the real thing. Do not wait and think it will go off after a few seconds.
- Call the Fire Services & Police immediately (never assume someone else has called). The numbers for the GCC region are as follows:
Emergency Services KSA
- Police – 999
- Fire service – 998
- Ambulance service (public) – 997
Emergency numbers UAE
- Police – 999 (from anywhere in the UAE)
- Helicopter Ambulance: When calling 999, the police will dispatch a helicopter to transport the injured, if the accident is deemed serious.
- Ambulance – 998
- Fire – 997
Emergency numbers Qatar
- Police or Ambulance – 999
Emergency numbers Kuwait
- Police or Ambulance – 112
Emergency Services Bahrain
- Police – 999
- Fire service – 997
Emergency Services Oman
- Police/Fire – 999
- If it is too dangerous to leave your home, stay inside the safest room, keep the door closed and use towels/beddings to prevent any smoke coming into the room.
- If you are trapped, go to your balcony and window, shout out for help and wait for the fire services to rescue you. Do not attempt to jump (you could injure or kill someone below).
- When leaving the building, use stairs only and not the lift.
- Also when leaving, make sure your neighbours know about the fire. Bang on their doors and shout for them to leave.
If you need help to organize your home in case of emergency, contact us at any time to book a session.
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